According to a new survey in U.S. News & World Report, USF ranks 183rd among Tier I institutions, which makes up the top 75 percent of schools in the nation.
While administration should consider this a call to continue their efforts to improve the University, students, parents, alumni and others associated with USF shouldn’t put too much emphasis on the ranking’s seemingly negative connotation.
The ranking weighs many factors, including a university’s undergraduate academic reputation, retention rates and academic and financial resources.
While the list may reveal differences among academic institutions, it doesn’t mean that those not listed near the top are any less viable or unable to give their students an adequate education that will retain its value in the future.
There are hundreds of universities across the U.S., and their differences – while perhaps notable in this report – do not translate into radically different academic experiences.
Regardless of what institution a student attends, the material studied and concepts discussed in classes are relatively parallel throughout the nation.
The facts of biology, for instance, don’t change depending on what school one attends, as the laws of nature and science are the same in any language or location.
USF’s student-to-faculty ratio is one of the highest in the nation at 27:1 and was a major reason for the low ranking.
But being in a class with one instructor and 27 students does not necessarily mean students will find it overcrowded or feel as though it’s overwhelmingly difficult to learn.
This also doesn’t take into account student’s personal initiative and their ability to overcome a crowded environment. Many college students are able to thrive in classes that barely exceed the limits of those in Florida’s public schools.
There are also attributes that the surveyors did not consider that could still positively affect one’s education and marketability.
USF is centrally located in Tampa and offers students an incredible variety of job and internship possibilities.
A student attending Penn State University in State College, Pa., would have to drive more than two hours from the small college town to reach the nearest city of Harrisburg, Pa., which has a population of fewer than 50,000 people. The Tampa Bay area boasts a population of more than 4 million.
Many colleges are in the same predicament and simply can’t offer the resources of those that operate in a large metropolis.
There’s not an absolute measure of a school’s reputation for success because the variables are too numerous and, like all lists, some have to lose out, even if the differences are slight.
With this in mind, it’s unwise to place too much emphasis on the U.S. News & World Report’s survey.